Monday, November 24, 2008

name that saint!

name that saint, prize for the first person who names than all....

( Ok J.M. I need your help on these saints... well with maybe one exception.)

the childrens Day of revolution parade

I think the nino with the black mustache and black suit is
Francisco Ignacio Madero was a politician and revolutionary who served as President of Mexico from 1911 to 1913. He was deposed and executed by the Porfirista military. His assassination was followed by the most violent period of the revolution (1913-1917) until the Constitution of 1917 and revolutionary president Venustiano Carranza achieved some degree of stability.
And I think the slightly chubby guy in the sombrero and crossed ammo belts is Pancho Villa. Francisco or "Pancho" Villa, who at the age of 16 he shot an older man, the son of a big landowner. He lived as an as an outlaw but eventually joined the army eventually becoming commander of the División del Norte (Division of the North). He he was not accepted into the "pantheon" of national heroes until some twenty years after his death, today his memory is honored.

In 1916 he raided Columbus, New Mexico. This act provoked the unsuccessful Expedition commanded by General John J. Pershing which failed to capture Villa after a year in pursuit. Villa's command was noted for the speed of its movement of troops by railroad and the use of an elite cavalry unit called Los dorados "the golden ones" . He was considered quite brillant in his command. I have seen this poster numerous times, but I do not know if it is authentic or was created later.
And the girls, of course, just follow the men and have babies......

Zapata vive! (Zapata lives)

One of the characters that always appears in the children´s parade on the Day of the Revolution, Nov. 20 is EMILIANO ZAPATA.
Born August 8, 1879, he was a small farmer who did not own the land he worked.
At that time, Mexico was ruled by a dictatorship under Porfirio Díaz, who had seized power in 1876. The social system of the time in the country consisted of large landed estates (haciendas) controlling more and more of the land and squeezing out the independent communities of the indigenous and mestizos, who were being forced into debt slavery on the haciendas.
During the years of the Mexican revoution, 1910 -1919, Zapata formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South. Zapata fought for for land and liberty, he campaigned for the restoration of village lands confiscated by the large estates. His slogan was "Tierra y Libertad." His Plan of Ayala which called for the seizure of all foreign owned land, all land taken from villages, confiscation of one-third of all land held by "friendly" hacendados. On April 10, 1919, Zapata was tricked into a meeting with one of Carranza's generals. The meeting was a trap, and Zapata was killed as he arrived at the meeting.
There is a modern group of campesinos in Chiapas who call them Zapatistas after Zapata, mostly because they want land and autonomy for the indigenous villages in parts of Chiapas.


The Triquis are an indigenous group that seems to be able to maintain their traditional dress and their language. Their very distinctive long red huiples (dress)makes them stand out. Their traditional homelands are in western Oaxaca, I took these photos in Tlaxiaco, about 2.5 hours west of Oaxaca city. But there are also Triqui women, still wearing their bright red huiples here in Oaxaca. The women are often involved in weaving and selling all sorts of textiles. I have heard that many of the Triquis now living in Oaxaca are women who have had to live their homes because of abuse and/or non support by their husbands. This fits with I have observed, very rarely does one see a man helping or accompanying these women as they go about their small businesses.

I met an interesting person when I was in Oaxaca last March who was doing some research on the Triquis. You can read some of her observtions here

buying and selling in Huatla

The first picture is of a copper coffee cascara (outer skin of the coffee bean fruit), I include it because you can still find copper machine parts here, because it shows that the growing of coffee on small farms is an important part of the economy here, and lastly, because my brother at Dark Hollow Micro Roasters, might be interested.

This is how you can buy chickens, select the one you want and the seller pokes an airhole, puts in some cracked corn and places the chick in a plastic bag, might sound cruel, but remember this chick gets to live out his days running around outside, instead of living on a factory farm.
and lastly, saddles and sombreros are basic items sold here.

Huatla mercado

from the mercado in Huatla de Jimenez high in the Sierra Mazateca.
In the market, which draws people from remote villages even higher in the mountains, you can still hear the Mazateca language being spoken. To my uneducated ears the idioma sounds somewhat like the Chinese I hear spoken in our local Chinese restaurant, even though I am sure that linguistically not at all realated.
  • Photo notes:
    hot chilie peppers (as a general rule, the smaller the pepper the hotter the flavor) and the young ear and stalk of a kind of corn they grow in this region.
  • Gardenias (not for food), a kind of plam nut that is prepared by cooking in bananna leaves and then eaten with goat barbacoa, and the red substance is achoite paste(comination of crushed achiote seed, vinegar, salt, garlic and spices which is typically formed into a small block. The paste is then diluted and added to stews or used as a rub for meats. ) I saw the achoite trees growing all along the roadside on the way to this town, the photo is of the seed pods. In Oacxaca, the plant is also used as a dye for rugs and textiles, however, cochinilla is used more often for the red color.
  • the picuture of what looks like green peas is acutally a type of coffee plant, I was told that the beans are cooked and eaten
  • calla lilies, beans, peppers.
  • and just to remind you that this is the village of Maria Sabina, the legendary Mazatec female shaman.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

we Huatula

another part of the mural in the town hall
roughly translated it says
It is hoped (we hope) that the grandparents (old ones) never lose the eyes of children(Maria Sabina called the mushrooms the holy children)...those ancient ones that cure.

It is hoped that the gods do not stop talking with them, in order that the poetry remains in our hearts.

It is hoped that the sacriface that is made in each ceremony is seen as compensation with a change in attitude in every one of us.

It is hoped that you (the god(s) (the mushrooms as the embodiment of the gods?)will understand us and listen in order to connect us in this time to learn on earth.

Note.. planeta escuela is literally translated as¨ school of the planet¨ but I think in context in means more like our time on earth to learn)

We hope that the grandparents (old ones )live a thousand years in the heart of the mountains....

We hope that the home of the eagle never disappears.

Note...the word ¨nido¨ is not common but in various translations it can mean a sort of home or in some contexts it can mean a panel of embroderidy, which I think is interesting because a very common motif in the embrodery is an eagle.

Waldo..found in Huautla, Oaxaca

Remember when everyone was trying to find Waldo?

well, he is here running a bar in this very remote Mexican town high in the Sierra Mazateca.

We think he had too many mushrooms and could not remember how to find his way out.

The fascinating mushroom is part of a panel from the am
amazing mural in the town hall.

Maria Sabina

All of the pictures you see are from the amazing mural in the town hall.
María Sabina García (1888 - November 23, 1985) was a Mazatec medicine woman.
Sabina was the first contemporary Mexican curandera to allow Westerners to see a partake in a healing vigil in which the psilocybe mushroom is used as a sacrament to open the gates of the mind. This ritual is seen as a purification and as a communion with the sacred and the later use of the mushrooms as less sacred or even for recreation was seen as a terrible sacrilege.
Maria Sabina had visions on the "little saints" that someone (Wasson) was coming and would take the tradition to the world after 500 years of secrecy under Spanish rule. As a result of that action, giving the secrets of the "little saints" to outsiders, her son was murdered and her house burned to the ground. During the later years of her life she lamented that "the power of the sacrament had been lost in the clouds," and ending up speaking English instead of the Mazatec. She lived to age 91, passing away on November 22, 1985.
In 1955, ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson visited her hometown of Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, and brought spores of the fungus, which he identified as Psilocybe mexicana to Europe where the fungus was cultivated its active ingredient was later duplicated as the chemical psilocybin in the laboratory by Albert Hofmann in 1958.
American youth began seeking out Sabina and the "holy children" as early as 1962, and in the years that followed, thousands of counterculture mushroom seekers, scientists, and others arrived in the Sierra Mazateca. Sabina cultivated relationships with several of them, including Wasson, who became something of a friend. It is rumored, that many important 60s celebrities visited María Sabina, including rock stars such as Bob Dylan and John Lennon.
Eventually the lack of respect for the sacred and traditional purposes caused Sabina to say that she felt that the ceremony of the mushrooms had been desecrated and polluted by the hedonistic use: "From the moment the foreigners arrived, the 'holy children' lost their purity. They lost their force, they ruined them. Henceforth they will no longer work. There is no remedy for it."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yeah for the ancient traditions (older than the Catholics)

compare and contrast.....The mural in the town hall, the church, and the venders
As J. says....the Mexicans are not really Catholic....
Here are pictures of the church in Huautla de Jimenez (a Mazatec high in the mountains of N. Oaxaca)
Preparing for a fiesta in the church (the virgin of Candelaria, I think)
Venders selling all that is needed for the ceremony, copal (a resin used for many thousands of years by all the indigenous peoples of Mexico) cacao beans (chocolate beans), candles, bark paper for writing sacred words, candles, and eggs (represents the soul, spirit, and the eternal cycle of life)

Oaxaca¨´s virgin de Soledad


(the first two pictures are in the cathedral and the third is outside and shows those stubborn mules that are part of the story of why this virgin is in Oaxaca)
The most famous Virgin in Mexico, is of course, the virgin of Guadalupe, but there are many more. The state of Oaxaca has several. In the city of Oaxaca, the Virgin of Soledad has her own cathedral, and of course, her own set of miracles.
Here is the legend, from this web site, if you want to read more

In 1620 a mule train camped outside the city of Oaxaca discovered an extra mule which did not belong to anyone in the group. The mule refused to move and when prodded rolled over and died. When the pack it carried was opened, it was found to contain the statue of the Virgin of Soledad. Taking this as a sign from heaven,a church was built and later basilica which stands today on the spot where the statue first appeared. The statue was clothed in luxurious velvet robes embroidered with gold and pearls and wore a golden crown, much as you see her now in the Basilica.
Because of this miraculous selection of Oaxaca by the Virgin she became the parton saint.
The Virgin had a number of other robes, jewels and golden crowns. Several years ago, there was a robbery of some of the Virgin's jewels. The patroness of Oaxaca still has a crown and a number of beautiful robes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mi nuevo amigo

Aqui esta un foto de mi nuevo amigo. Yo creo que el es guapo y tambien intelligente.
(Here is a photo of my new friend. I think he is handsome and intelligent)
Su nombre es Antonio y el es un estudiante a Learning Center. Tambien, Antonio trabaja muy duro en la escuela. El hace daysayuno y limpia los cuartos perfectamente.
(His name is Antonio and he is a student in the Learning Center. Also, Antonio works very hard in the center. He makes breakfast and cleans the rooms perfectly.

Predigo que él será muy exitoso en su vida.
( I predict that Antonie will be very successful in his life)

Market day in Zachilla

Notes on the photos:
By the way, if you object to the treatment of animals in this market, please educate yourself on the reality of that plastic wrapped chicken or turkey you buy in the grocery store, also know that these chickens, turkeys and ducks lived outside and were free to forage for bugs and free to eat the corn they were given in the fresh and open air until the day they were brought to maket
In the first picture the woman is selling atole a drink make made with masa(corn meal) and sweetened with cinnamon and brown sugar.
I do not know what kind of edible flowers are displayed in the second picture, but I was told they were sweet. and the last picture is the lime seller, the reason for the lime is explaned below.
The cultivation of corn from its original ancestor, a wild grass from southern Mexico called teosinte,which still grows here and is does not look like any corn we know today happened first in the valley of Oaxaca. The many different varietes of corn one can see in the mercados attest to the complex and ancient creation of different colors and types, used for different types of cooking. The discovery that using lime with the corn to release the nutritents and the fact that beans with corn make a complete protien is one of greatest discoveries in the history of the world.
Some estimates say that there may be over 85,000 varieties of corn unique to Oaxaca. This represents perhaps the greatest diversity of any known crop in the world.
However, when maize is the dominant food there is a problem because corn lacks niacin. A lack of niacin causes pellagra, a chronic disease caused by a deficiency of niacin. Pellagra can also be avoided by eating corn in the form of tortillas. This ancient tradition of the Mesoamericans requires corn grains to be boiled with an alkaline substance, which in Mexico is lime. So in every mercado you see the ladies selling lime to be used in cooking corn to make tortillas.

Zaachila, pueblito near Oaxaca

A large unexplored (Zapotec)pyramid mound sits near the center of the town. The history of the pre-hispanic city is unclear. One theory is that the site flourished 1100 and 1521 A.D.. .

The full extent of the ancient city is not known either, most mounds have inhabited structurs on them and no move has been made to excavate. What mysteries remain about this culture!